Riverside Park in Robinson Township has suffered invasive species and erosion, but state and federal grant funds will help Ottawa County Parks to improve the park’s wildlife habitat and recreation.
The total cost of the project is $202,913, with the majority of funding coming from a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Sustain Our Great Lakes Grant and a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Habitat Grant.
Work begins this week with a prerestoration survey.
The first phase will bring a new culvert to improve the passage of fish between Kirby Bayou and the Grand River.
According to Ottawa County Parks Natural Resources Management Supervisor Melanie Manion, when water levels have been low, the existing culverts have ended up high and dry rather than submerged, resulting in low oxygen levels and dead fish. Fish are not moving properly between the two bodies of water, Manion explained, and have died in large numbers in recent years.
The project will seek to improve pike habitat with the new, larger culvert.
The second phase aims to stabilize 500 feet of the river bank using natural shoreline techniques. Stabilization is intended to reduce the sediment load into the river.
Before a boat launch was added to the park, Manion said, visitors would drive boats and cars to the river’s edge. Lawn mowing used to be done up to the shoreline, removing native vegetation that holds the bank in place. Both factors have caused shoreline erosion, she said.
Ottawa County Parks is contributing a match of $94,750 to the project, including staff and volunteer time, with partners David Mifsud, Herpetological Resource and Management LLC and the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds also pitching in.
The grant provides funding through November 2019, and the culvert should be installed next spring.